Naked bathers want to ‘piggyback’ on Wild Atlantic Way’s success

February 15th, 2020 11:20 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Calls have been made for West Cork’s many nudist beaches to be signposted on the Wild Atlantic Way route including Long Strand and Sands Cove. (Photo: Ciara Patricia Langan)

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Changes to legislation in 2017 mean it is not an offence to be naked in public and there have been calls to make traditional ‘nudist’ beaches around West Cork officially recognised

WEST Cork should be tapping into the ‘naked euro’ by providing signage and officially recognising many of the secluded ‘unofficial’ nudist beaches dotted along the region’s coast.

That’s the view of Stephen Bolton,  spokesperson for the Irish Naturist Association, who said that by aligning these beaches with the Wild Atlantic Way (WAW) route it would bring a different element to the tourist mix, while also boosting tourists numbers in the area.

West Cork boasts several beaches that have been attracting naturists for decades with some of the more popular including Dunny Cove, Sands Cove, Long Strand in the Clonakilty area, and Prison Cove in Glandore.

‘I have been down to Clonakilty three or four times over the past number of years. They are traditional naturist beaches and have been for decades, and it’s all locally known,’ Stephen told The Southern Star.

‘We are trying to piggyback on the WAW – which has been a masterclass in marketing – and if we could get a couple of pinpoint markers on their online interaction maps showing people where to go, it would be great. Obviously it’s locally known, but many tourists who happen to be naturists would not have that vital local knowledge.’

Changes to legislation in 2017 mean it is not an offence to be naked in public and it is only deemed an offence when someone is intending to cause offence, fear, or engages in sexual activity.

‘It has been happening for years, it is legal – and all we are looking for now is recognition. It becomes very normal very quickly. One example of that is the Naked Bike Ride that takes place in Cork city annually where people don’t bat an eyelid anymore at the naked cyclists.’

A vibrant community of naturists already exists in Ireland and he says that if they have somewhere to go, they will spend time and money in these areas.

‘The likes of Clonakilty, for example, is a great town and would well able to host more people and this would benefit local hotels, guesthouses and restaurants.’

There’s also the curiosity factor, and Stephen said recognition of these beaches would bring locals down to see what all the fuss is about.

‘It attracts a lot of curiosity, that’s for sure!’

Stephen said that West Cork is ‘blessed’ with hundreds of little beaches and bathing areas that are private and that can be easily accessed.

‘All we are looking for are signposts to say “a traditional naturist bathing area here” and if people are easily offended, they can turn around,’ he added.

The group had recently sought the introduction of signs for several well-known naturist beaches in Dublin but they faced several objections from local businesses.

He recently attended a Spanish Tourist Board event where he was told that there are 500 officially recognised areas along the Spanish coast for nude bathing.

‘And we don’t even have one!’ he said. ‘Why not make it easier for tourists to find these bathing areas because they’re coming to the country anyway?’

There has been a noted increase in membership within the British Naturist Association who, he said, have had over 1,000 new members in 2019 alone.

‘This is down to the fact that they have weekend festivals and other events. If we had an officially recognised beach then we could host something like that’.

Stephen is also calling for more leisure centres or hotels in West Cork to embrace naturism by hosting naked swim nights. ‘One hotel in Cahir in Tipperary has been doing it for years and we have actually doubled our capacity in that place in the past year. We also had a swimming event in Fermoy recently, so there’s no reason why it can’t happen too in West Cork.’

He said the problem  with a lot of the new leisure centres is that they have glazed walls, which would not be conducive or practical for hosting naked swimming events.

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